HEY SUSAN! A Q&A with RIOC President Susan Rosenthal

November 19, 2018

HEY SUSAN!

I recently learned that you don't live on Roosevelt Island. Do you think that your investment in the community is at all compromised if you don't reside within it, or do you think that this is not the case? It baffles me that the President of the RIOC would be allowed to live off the Island. Thank you for explaining why this shouldn't matter.

 

SUSAN: Thanks for your question. I don’t think it matters that I live off Island. I believe that in any job, one is as invested as one wants to be. As President, I learn about Roosevelt Island by spending the time and effort to investigate, with my own eyes and ears, the community’s hopes, desires, and complaints. 

 

My door is always open, and residents come in constantly, with or without appointments, to meet with our executive team and me.

 

I regularly attend events - it helps that I live minutes away - where I take the opportunity to observe and engage with Island residents. (Wasn’t the Halloween Extravaganza fun? And, I thought our Veterans Celebration was both moving and respectful).

RIRA President Lynne Shinozaki, PSD Chief Jack McManus and RIHS President Judy Berdy at RIOC's Halloween Extravaganza this year, held in Sportspark because of inclement weather

 

The healthy and harmonious functioning of Roosevelt Island is what I’ve chosen to devote my waking hours to; I don’t need to sleep here to orchestrate RIOC Operations and make sure that essential services are provided - snow removal, the Red Buses and the Tram, garbage pick-up, landscaping, road repair, public safety, the Sportspark, maintenance of playgrounds and fields, the Youth Center and its sports programs, in addition to a list of renovations, remediations, and new projects.

 

One of the amazing things I’ve learned in the past few years is that so many RIOC employees LOVE the Island and take pride in how beautiful it is. That makes my job a lot easier!

 

Finally, our elected officials don’t live here while representing Roosevelt Island, but they come here and communicate with me and our residents often. We’ve worked together and will continue to work together to serve our Island.

 

So, I guess, that if a President cares about the Island, learns about it, spends time here with its residents and wants to do a good job (and has the skills to do so), I don’t think he/she has to live here.

 

HEY SUSAN!

I am a Roosevelt Island resident and know that from time-to-time, RIOC offers a paper shredding event - was wondering if you knew when the next one might be?

 

SUSAN: In the past, we’ve scheduled the Lower East Side Ecology Center to come to the Island in April around the annual Earth Day events and bring their paper shredding and e-waste (electronic equipment disposal) trucks for residents at no cost. We missed the opportunity last year but plan to bring them back in 2019.

 

HEY SUSAN!

Why are bikes allowed to be at the bike racks overnight? Every building has bike storage… people should use that. If I can’t fit all my furniture in my apartment, I don’t leave it on the street. Why should people leave their bikes on the street? The bike racks should be for people who want to ride to the subway, Starbucks, a park, etc. I realize you’ve started removing abandoned bikes, but there is still no reason to have so many bikes at those racks.

 

SUSAN: Biking is booming in New York City and Roosevelt Island thanks to an expanding network of bike lanes and greenways. The increased interest in biking influenced RIOC’s decision to apply for grants for a proposed bike ramp and lane along our East Promenade. And, as you’ve stated, RIOC enacted a new policy September 3, to remove old, broken and rusty bicycles chained at our numerous racks, streetlights and street signs.

 

As an extension of that policy, we’ve reminded all our residential building managers to please ensure there is adequate bike parking inside their buildings for those whose bikes can’t be parked in their owner’s apartment. With the help of our Public Safety Department’s maintaining and enforcing the policy, I think you’re going to see most of the bike rack eyesores gone and hopefully, regular riders parking indoors.

 

HEY SUSAN!

Why are throttle E-Bikes allowed on Roosevelt Island when they are illegal in NYC? It’s easy to recognize these bikes because the people riding them don’t pedal. Only pedal-assist bikes are allowed in NYC. It would be easy to stop these at the bridge, ticket them, confiscate them, etc. They’re hazardous riding so fast on our sidewalks. Most have no lights.

 

SUSAN:  Any e-bike with pedal assistance that travels up to 20 miles per hour is legal. I’m currently having discussions with Public Safety Department Chief Jack McManus to ask that his officers increase enforcement of all aspects of the Vehicle and Traffic Law on the Island. Accordingly, just like the New York Police Department, they will ticket all violators they observe.

 

HEY SUSAN!

Why doesn’t RIOC publish positive news? We have two curmudgeon bloggers who find the negative in anything and a Google search of Roosevelt Island turns up their negativity which makes the Island sound like an awful place. There should be more positive things written about the Island.

 

SUSAN: We do distribute positive news about the Island via our website homepage; via the RIOC social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and via our text alerts and email blasts. We also share press releases with all three of the Island’s media outlets. If you would like to added to our weekly news release email blasts, send your name and email to Alonza Robertson, RIOC’s public information officer.

 

HEY SUSAN!

What is the point of the Visitor Center? Is it a trinket shop? The paper signs all over the grass on the weekend are very tacky and should not be allowed. I’m not sure what service is provided. If they provide a real service, give them a real sign. If not, close it. 

 

SUSAN: The Visitors Center is an independent entity run by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. Among other things, RIHS records the unique story of our Island and conducts educational programs to promote awareness of our history. We’re sure their President Judy Berdy would welcome your constructive feedback. Feel free to email her.

 

HEY SUSAN!

What is the schedule and frequency for the Red Buses? I can often walk from 405 to Motorgate and a bus never passes me. Or three pass me.

 

SUSAN: During the morning and evening peak periods – 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – the Red Buses run every eight minutes; leaving the RI Tram Station heading north and from the Octagon heading south. During off-peak, the buses run every 15 minutes. 

 

HEY SUSAN!

I am wondering why there is scaffolding on an approximate 12-foot area blocking the pedestrian path on the East side of the Island adjacent to the Coler Hospital parking lot.  This scaffolding has been in place for several months and does not appear to be part of the Island wide replacement of the sea wall “fence” replacement.  In addition to wondering why the scaffolding is there, more importantly can you please tell me the approximate, projected date for its removal?

 

SUSAN: That scaffolding was being used by Elit Green Builders Corporation, the contractors who are replacing the old rusted seawall railing with new carbon-steel, anti-corrosive railing along the majority of the Island’s shoreline. The scaffolding, there and at other select locations, allowed the builder to conduct test borings and measurements before the prefabrication orders are made. (I didn’t know that the exact distances between posts differ in various locations). The specific scaffolding you refer to was removed last week.

 

HEY SUSAN!

I was very happy to see the email below from RIOC and hope that you will be able to assist me. I have a daughter who is bipolar and schizophrenic and as a divorced mother with six years to retirement, I am the only caregiver financially and otherwise as my daughter cannot work.

 

After residing on Roosevelt Island for six years in a one-bedroom at Manhattan Park Apartments, I now find that I am in uurgent need of an affordable apartment on the island or I will have no choice but to leave when my lease expires in May 2019.

 

I did not understand that the rent for a one-bedroom apartment would move drastically from the US $2,000 range to the current amount of US $2,732. Based on the fact that last year’s lease agreement increased my rent by US $266, I am afraid that I will not be able to continue living on Roosevelt Island beyond May 2019.

 

Susan, I really hope you will be able to inform me of any affordable two-bedroom apartment which is available on the island.  Looking forward to your reply and guidance. Thank you in advance. 

 

SUSAN: Thank you for your question and please accept my admiration of your dedication to your daughter.

 

As the governing agency for the Island, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation negotiates lease agreements with the various building owners and developers that include provisions for affordable housing based on federally-accepted income guidelines based on the Area Median Income (AMI) of the New York City region. These income guidelines are calculated annually, vary by family size and therefore subject to change on a yearly basis.  I encourage you to contact several of the Island building managers to inquire about the availability of any designated affordable units in their developments.

 

Also, note that Hudson-Related is close to beginning construction on a new housing complex in Southtown that will wholly consist of affordable units based on the AMI. However, it is not expected to open until the summer of 2020. 

 

HEY SUSAN!

What is planned for the defunct playground adjacent to the future location of the library?

 

SUSAN: As that area will be directly next to the expanded new library, we are thinking that the area should be a quiet space and we’re reviewing options with the project’s designers.

 

As the project moves forward we will schedule times for the designers to meet with our residents to share ideas.

 

HEY SUSAN!

I'm writing in regards of the use of the Octagon tennis court. We have been there several times and it is like the Wild West. People don't use the signing sheet and when you asked them at what time they started, they become rude and say they just arrived (that's clearly not true).

 

Also, it seems there are a lot of people off Island. Is there a way to put more control on the use of the tennis court?

 

SUSAN: The Octagon tennis courts are an open-play facility that welcomes all - residents and non-residents - to enjoy on a first-come, first-serve honor system basis. Singles are allowed an hour of court time and doubles can play for two hours. The rules are posted at the courts.  In past years, court use was by permit only with card access but that created more problems than under the current system. I hope that the community continues to police itself in a civil and polite fashion.

Do you have a question you’d like to have answered by RIOC President Susan Rosenthal? Send it to HEY SUSAN! Want to receive RIOC’s email alerts and press releases? Send your email address to Alonza Robertson. alonza.robertson@rioc.ny.gov. Want to report a problem, send us a FIX-IT Ticket.

 

 

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